Best friends Annee, Wirts to embrace final moments as teammates

Later this month, Audrey Annee, who’ll attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, will be granted 60 seconds to say goodbye to family and friends.

Saying farewell to Rachel Wirts, her former Center Grove teammate and best friend, a few days prior is likely to produce its own pool of tears.

Before venturing their separate ways, however, Annee and Wirts suit up for the same team one final time as the Indiana All-Stars battle the Kentucky All-Stars at Lexington Catholic High School on Friday evening and inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday.

Johnson County will be well represented with Annee, Wirts and Indian Creek post player Faith Wiseman part of the girls roster. High-scoring former Franklin guard Micah Davis is a member of the Indiana boys team.

Once the final buzzer sounds to end the girls game, an important chapter in the young lives of Annee and Wirts will be complete.

“We’ve talked about the day we’re leaving for a while,” said Wirts, a 6-foot-3 center who averaged 12.1 points and seven rebounds this past season for a very balanced Trojans team that advanced to the championship game of the Class 4A semistate at Southport.

“We’ve done a lot together, and I’m definitely grateful for this relationship. We are so much alike, and I can be so honest about any situation in my life and Audrey is super supportive.”

Wirts, who has been recruited to play at Villanova, leaves for the Philadelphia campus on June 26. Two days later, Annee, a 5-9 guard who produced 13.2 points and 1.9 assists last season, embarks on her military journey that includes playing for the Black Knights.

Their destinations are separated only by 150 miles. However, their respective academic, athletic and social schedules will make it difficult for Annee and Wirts to get together — particularly as freshmen while each adjusts to her new environment. Which makes this weekend’s games even more meaningful.

“I’m really excited to be going with Rachel,” Annee said. “She’s my best friend off the court, and we support each other in different ways than our families do. We hold each other to a higher standard, but in a positive way. I think it’s great getting to experience this with Rachel, and just get to play in front of so many fans.”

If you’re visualizing old photos of the two together in kindergarten, or even before, don’t.

Annee and Wirts didn’t meet until the latter began attending Center Grove as a sophomore after previously being home-schooled. By the time their junior school year started, they had discovered enough similarities to forge a strong connection.

“One of the biggest things is we both had a common goal,” Wirts said. “We started coming in in the mornings to work out together, and that sort of grew our friendship. Looking back on it, I see how we’ve leaned on each other a lot.

“When you have someone who is pushing you, it creates a different kind of bond.”

With so many talented players on the Indiana All-Star roster, it remains to be seen whether coach Andy McGuire puts Annee and Wirts on the floor at the same time. Maybe some give-and-go action with Annee kicking the ball inside to her buddy. Perhaps Wirts posting up and throwing the basketball back out to the perimeter for Annee to launch a 3-point attempt from the wing.

Whatever the scenario, they’ll take it.

The two have crammed countless memories into the past two years. Ones that will be laughed — maybe even cried — about during their final days together.

In the meantime, there are still basketball games to be played.


Indiana/Kentucky All-Star games

When: Saturday, 5 p.m. (girls) and 7:30 p.m. (boys)

Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

Admission: Tickets (priced from $10 to $100 each) are available at the fieldhouse box office and at